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The Podcraft™ Podcast

Creating a Community for Your Podcast in WordPress with bbPress

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The PodCraft Podcast: Series 3, Episode 19

In this, the penultimate episode of PodCraft, we’re talking communities. The creation of a community has to be one of the main goals of any podcast, and to give it a real home on your website adds so much more value to that community. Today I’ll talk about the benefits of communities, both to hobbyist podcasters and business owners, and go on to discuss the right tools for the job. I have three community building tools for you, all for very different uses, so you can choose the one to suit you. Let’s get started.

Resources Mentioned on This Show


bbPress is focused on ease of integration, ease of use, web standards, and speed. This plugin is hugely powerful and flexible. You can basically build this plugin into any type of forum you like while still allowing for great add-on features through WordPress’s extensive plugin system.

WP Symposium

WP Symposium turns a WordPress website into a Social Network, you can basically build a social network similar to Facebook on a WordPress site. It has all of the same kind of stuff like friends, followers, groups, events and even a live chat function so you can have live chat rooms for your community to get involve. Another advantage of this plugin it has some nice default themes that will make your box look good.

CM Answers

This plugin is more basic, it’s not a full forum package but it’s more of a Q&A type of deal. It’s a question and answer type of forum whereby people will post a question, anyone can post an answer and you can get the voting up answers type of functionality that you find in the links of Stackoverflow, Yahoo Answers and sort.

Check out this article by Copyblogger for more information about digital sharecropping.

Your Tasks

  1. Choose one of the tools I’ve mentioned which you think would suit you best.
  2. Install it on your WordPress website
  3. Start building a basic forum. Build a few different sections for that forum based on your topic
  4. Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below

Let Me Know What You Think

Tell me which one you went for, why you chose that tool and tell me some of the sections you’ve created. I’d love to know!

Finally, if you’re finding the series useful, I’d really appreciate it if you’d give me a review on iTunes. It really helps to get the show out to more people and grow the PodCraft community. Just pop over to PodCraft on the iTunes website to do that.

Thanks again for joining me and I’ll see you on the next episode!

View the Transcription for the Show

Hey folks! I’m Colin Gray and this is PodCraft.

Hey folks and welcome to another episode of PodCraft. It’s the Series 3 where we’re looking at building a peerless podcasting website that is creating a great home for your podcast on the web. So, we’re up to the penultimate episode, that’s only two to go including today, that’s episode 319. And today, we’re looking at building a community. This is one of the greatest aims of a podcast, I would say, that idea of being able to build a full community around both yourself and your podcast and your topic. So, they have lots of people, lots of fans, all talking to each other, promoting your content, helping you, giving lots of feedback, all that kind of stuff, all the great stuff that comes with being the centre of a community. And giving all that value back to community members as well, actually changing people’s lives, actually adding something to their lives and helping them to do greater things. So, yes, that’s the aim we have for today’s and the idea of building a community on your podcasting website.

Now, even if you don’t monetise it, there’s huge benefits here. I’ve just mentioned a few of them briefly but let’s just go through them in detail. So, we’ll go on to actually monetising a community in a little while. But even if you don’t want to, even if you’re just a hobbyist, there’s still plenty of benefits for you around creating a community for your podcast. For a start, it’s great fun, so you’re getting involved with lots of your listeners, you’re getting involved with all the people that are interested in your subject. So, say mountain biking, that’s one of my podcast that I do, something that I’m really into and I actually get involve with mountain biking community. So, I get online, I talk to people, I get involve with conversations, I get a lot of value, I give a lot of value back, we give advice, all that kind of stuff. That’s what happen to the communities, so even if you’re the one that’s running it, you’ll get a lot of fun out of that too especially because as a person that is running it, obviously you’re a bit of a focus for it. So, there’s lots of benefits to you being that kind of pseudo celebrity of the community but besides that it’s just you make friends. So, you have lots of friends on there, people who come regularly and that’s the great fun aspect. Besides that, a lot of people will contribute content, so your members of your community, those people that start loyalty towards your community, towards your podcast, they’ll help you create content, they’ll offer you lots of tips, lots of advice, they’ll give you lots of things. So, going back to the mountain biking idea, find a community around mountain biking podcast, they would give trail guides for example, so I can’t go and visit all the trails around the country so people in my community might contribute trail reports that I can now note on the podcast or they can review bikes, I can’t buy all the bikes in the world either as much as I’d like to, so you get people reading out, sorry, you get people writing in reviews of different pieces of cap, of shoes, of bags, of shorts, of all that kind of stuff and you can read that out on your podcast as well. And people really value that, people would really enjoy doing that, they really contribute, enjoy contributing that type of stuff to a community. So, they feel a satisfaction about putting that out into the world, about helping people out and they feel even more satisfaction about having you read out on the podcast. So, it’s a bit of a win-win for both, you get a content and they get a lot of recognition, a lot of satisfaction out of it. Related to that, there’s also the fact that you get a lot of feedback, so people will give you lots of feedback on the types of things they’re struggling with in their subject. Whatever it is you talk about , you’re always looking for problems, the pain point, you’re always looking for the things that people struggle within your topic and that’s where you find a really compelling content. If you can answer questions, if you can answer pains, if you can answer problems that people have commonly within your topic then that’s the content people want to listen to, that’s the stuff people will really engage with if it solves as the problem for them. And if you run a community, you get to talk to a lot of people that are into this subject, you get to read a lot of comments from people that are writing about the subject. So, the idea for content will really come out, all these problems, all these issues that people have will come out in that community and you can then build content and built podcast episodes, build products for them in the future. Finally, even if you’re just a hobbyist podcaster, promotion, promotion is a big benefit of community. If you dozens of people in your community, then they’re all going to tell dozens of their friends. If they’re loyal listeners, they’re going to tell people about your podcast, they’re going to tell people about your website and having that community that is loyal to you becomes fanatical about your content. There’s nothing better for promotion than that word of mouth. They’re not recommendation from somebody who’s just a fan, they’re not invested in this, there’s no reason why they should be telling somebody about this community or this podcast other than the fact that they really like you and that’s the kind of recommendations you want to get.

Now, going beyond the hobbyist aspect, they’re all the benefits you get obviously if you’re running a business and you’re using a podcast to promote that business then all of those benefits really do count for you as well, obviously, the contribution of content that’s great, being able to actually find out what type of episodes that people want, that feedback as well, being able to find the problems that people are having so that you can create a podcast episodes and products, I mean if you’re running a business, if you can find out what people are really struggling with, you can then create products to solve those problems and that’s the type of products that really sell. When they sell, when they solve a problem that you know exists within your community, as opposed to something you just assumed exist which is quite often happens within businesses. The business owner will create something that they just think should exist or they think that think will solve the problem but when you’re getting it direct from the horse’s mouth, you’re getting it straight from your listeners, this is something they need solved and that is hugely valuable. And then finally, obviously, that promotion aspect to that works for business just as well as it does for a hobbyist. You want to get your business out there, and if people become a fan of your podcast, they’re going to not only promote your podcast but they’re going to promote your business as well, and how good is that? Now, building a community around a business is obviously a different prospect to building one around a hobby. People generally have a pretty good detector for lies, for just general baloney from people who are trying to pretend they’re giving value or pretend they’re doing one thing when actually they’re trying to sell. So, it’s quite different. The key to that, the key to building a community as a business is offering a hell of a lot of value, so you need to give away a lot of stuff, you need to give away advice, you need to give away your time so you need to actually answer those questions in the community, you need to get involved, you need to be in there as the business owner. And people really value because they know that time’s pretty much what you’re most valuable commodity so if you’re getting in there and you’re helping people, that is offering a whole lot of value. But it’s not really, it’s not costing you anything in terms of money or resources, just your time and obviously that is valuable so you need to be careful with that. But people know that and they’ll pay you back in equal measure. You can also, to build that value, you can also give away products, so you can actually give special treatment to your community members, you can give them special reports, information products that really cost you anything to give away just a little bit time to create. You can give away courses, you can give away things especially to your community which will make them feel really valued and make them more loyal to your community, to your business and your podcast in the future. And then, obviously when it comes time for you to actually sell something, so to sell a real product, something that is actually valuable, they’ve built a lot of trust in you because they know the kind of thing you provide, they know that you put out good quality stuff, they know that you’ve put out a lot of value in the past and they’re more than happy to pay you back. And if you’ve managed to build that type of loyal community in the past, your sales will absolutely sky rocket when you do come to sell, so when you actually ask them to do something for you, you’ll actually get it back, those people will pay you back in huge measure.

So, that’s the basics of why you might want to build a community and the benefits from it. Let’s have a look at how you do so. So, it’s possible to build a community in the basic WordPress platform, you have some types of communication methods, so you’ve got comments, so you can build a bit of community just in the comments, you can have people coming back again and again to comment on your post, to comment on your show notes and you can reply to them as well, so conversations can build up in the comments. That’s a very basic form of conversation but it does exist, so, that may be an option for you. You can also bring in social media conversations, so you can bring in a Twitter feed, you can bring in some of your Facebook posts, so you can bring in an external conversations and maybe show a little bit of your community in that respect. And finally, you can even lead out to other platforms, you could lead out to a Facebook community for example or a group on LinkedIn. So, you could have your actual community based offsite elsewhere but linked to it from your own website actually direct people there and that would give you full forum functionality conversation, all that kind of stuff, groups that type of thing. But again, I think I’ve talked about this in the past but I wouldn’t recommend that, I think that’s building on borrowed land something I read from Chris Mar actually not that long ago it’s “Shitting the Sharecropping Idea” I don’t think that came from him but you did a really good article on that subject which I’ll link to in the show notes. The whole digital sharecropping concept around people building on rented land, on borrowed land, it could be taken away any time. I mean, if you build a community on Facebook, there’s nothing to say that Facebook won’t charge you for that community in the future or even just take that functionality away. You might imagine that someone as big as Facebook wouldn’t do that but Google have been known for shutting down entire services with very short notice so you can never really on it. Really, you want to be building anything that you value such as the community on your own land, so on your server, so, that means on your website essentially. Not only that it gives you assurance that it’s always going to be there, so you actually have control over whether it’s going to be around in the future but also you just have a lot more control over how it looks, how it functions, stuffs like advertising for example, putting advertising on Facebook or LinkedIn groups, maybe not possible but you can do that on your own. So, ways to monetise in the future as well, it’s pretty important to own your own property in that respect. So, on that note you want to build your own forum.

So, how do we do this in WordPress? Here we come to the tools for today. So, it’s quite easy actually to build a forum out in WordPress. There’s a few different ways to do it and let’s have a look at the few tools. The one that I’ve always used in the past is called bbPress, so it’s the letter B B, so just B B and then press and that’s pretty much the daddy of forum software within WordPress. It’s been around for years, it’s in width that kind of the wood work of wood WordPress, in the olden age it used to be a standalone till they went alongside WordPress but then it was built completely into WordPress as a plugin and that was completely integrated. As a huge community out there around, including tons of plugins and themes so it’s usually powerful, usually flexible, you can basically build bbPress out into any type of forum you like. The downside of it is a bit ugly with box so if you just install the default bbPress then it doesn’t look very nice, you might have to play around with the themes to make it look nice or to actually tie it in with your normal theme. And some people do think that it’s not the most easy to use tool but that’s mainly because of its power. I think it is quite easy to use, to be honest, if you set it up in the basic forum, before it’s easy to get it go in that way, you can set up all the forums, all the different sections of your forum, all that type of stuff. And then, once you start playing around with the more advanced features, it does get a little bit more complicated but it’s the same with anything, once you get into the advanced stuff, you’re going to be just time about learning, about how it works. But, you’re going to be disappointed if you go with bbPress, you won’t be disappointed at all. Fully powerful, everything that you’d expect in a forum plugin so by all means try that out. Completely free as well, which is a huge advantage.

There is a contender though, that I will mention called WP Symposium. So, this is a newer one and really is actually, the whole principle behind WP Symposium is that it’s a social network. So, you can build a social network, very similar to facebook, on a WordPress site, so, it’s essentially building your own Facebook clone. It’s got all of the same kind of stuff like friends and followers and groups and events and all the kind of thing, so it’s got a lot of power, lots of feature in there and it’s even got a live chat function as well actually so you can have a live chat rooms for your community to get in there and get involved in if you think a standard asynchronies chat isn’t enough for you. The advantage of WP Symposium as well is that it looks good at the box, so, some nice default themes, so you don’t have to play around with it too much. Arguably, it’s easier to setup so if you want to just get going quickly and easily then WP Symposium could be a better option for you. WP Symposium and its basic form’s completely free, so you can play around with it, you can upgrade and get some extra features but the free one’s absolutely fine, I think, and does pretty much everything that most people will need from a forum.

So, the next one I’ll mention is called CM Answers. The reason I mention this one is because it’s a little bit different in the way to works. It’s more basic, so, it’s not a full on forum package but it’s more of a Q&A type of deal. So, it’s a question and answer type of forum whereby people will post a question, anyone can post an answer, and you can get the voting up answers type of functionality that you find in the links of Stackoverflow or Yahoo Answers or Quora. So, if you want to run more of a question and answers type forum, let people help each other out, or just ask questions of yourself or maybe other people who are kind of nominated answers within your community then that could be a good way to go. It is less about self in-depth conversations and more about just helping each other, answer questions then CM Answers is the plugin that could well work for you.

So, that’s three different plugin tools that you can try out. I hope they prove useful to you. I hope you go ahead and have a go at building of community for your podcast. Definitely, something is worth investing your time in whether you’re a hobbyist or business looking to promote your podcast. So, yes, get involved in that and I’d love to hear how it goes.

Fairly, just to, on that note, the task for today. So, choose one, choose one of the tools: bbPress, WP Symposium or CM Answers, whichever one you think would suit you best based on how I’ve described them. Install that on your WordPress website and start building out the most basic forum, just build a few different sections for that forum based on whatever your topic is. And as usual, you can obviously find links to these tools within the show notes, you’ll find them at podcraft.net/319 for today. You’ll be able to download them from there. And once you’ve done that, last step is just to let me know how it goes. So, go on to, again, podcraft.net/319 and drop me a comment on the show notes. Just drop in a comment saying which one you went for, why you chose that one and tell me some of the sections you’ve created. So, tell me what areas within your forum you’ve created for your topic, tell me what your topic is and what areas you have created. So, yes, I hope that covers communities, probably lets you know why you should be getting involved at community.

And that leaves us at the end of the penultimate episode, so just one more to go. Tomorrow, we’re going to be talking in a slightly related note about monetising your content. So, we introduced monetisation with affiliate marketing a little bit earlier in the series.  Now, we’re going to look at actually monetising your content, so, that involves creating your own product, maybe monetising that community we’ve just talked about or many other ways as well. And we’d look at the best tools that you can use with WordPress to actually start charging for the stuff that you create. So, I hope you’re looking forward to that. Generally, works quite a lot with businesses but hobbyist as well, always quite keen to get something back out with their podcasting efforts. So, I hope you join me again tomorrow. So, I’ll talk to you then! See you later!

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